One of the main lessons God began teaching me was the concept of serving behind the scenes. (I say began because I believe that lessons are never fully learned on this earth, and that faith is a process). The village of Ruma was nothing short of community. Acts 2:42-47 says it best:
“42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and held everything in common, 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. 46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.“
This was the early church, and this was the church in Ruma. In Bangladesh, there are not churches on every corner. Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and to claim to be a Christian is to claim persecution. There are not churches on every corner; and the one village that is set apart as a Christian community is the village of Ruma. From the moment that we walked up the dusty road to New Eden Para, we were treated as family. In America, I might filipantly call someone my brother or sister in Christ. In Ruma, they live this out day to day. The people in Ruma could not have been more excited to have the encouragement and mere presence of others that claimed themselves as Christians, albeit from across the world. Each member of the community was lined up on the sides of the hill, desiring to shake each of our hands individually to thank us for our trek to visit them. Their smiles and unshakeable faith will be forever imprinted on my mind and my heart. The people were also aware that although they had never seen America; America was a much more comfortable place to live. They continued to thank us for leaving a place with “so much” to visit a place with “nothing”. In some ways, they were right. America is full of comforts- abundance and variety of foods, stores, shelter, bathrooms, showers, and other luxuries. I came to see while in Ruma, however, that these things are not life. That in a sense, the comforts and wants we all have here can distract us from living the simple, free life Christ has called us to live. While sleeping on the ground, using a latrine aka dirt hole as a bathroom, having a bucket shower, and eating rice and dahl for every meal, I was profoundly content. I had all that I really needed; and God satisfied me. I came to wonder if the people of Ruma were the truly wealthy. They were living what I’ve coined the simple servant’s life. Their life was based on relationships, not things. And while I was blessed to spend time there, my days were based on relationships and nothing less. I got to see the people of Ruma serve us in extravagant ways. They moved out of their huts for a time period in order for us to have a hut to sleep in. The woman that lived in the house would brush dust out of the hut periodically in order to have it as clean as it could possibly be for us. Some ladies of the village woke up at 3 in the morning, every morning, to go down to the river to get water to boil for us so that we could make our instant coffee in the morning. They made each of us knitted bags and slingshots so that we could take a piece of them with us when we left. And they did all these things joyfully, as if they were priviledged to be serving us. This is the kind of woman, wife, one day mother, and friend I want to be. I want to serve out of the abundance of love the Father has given to me. I want to wake up every day not feeling as if the world owes me something; but instead willing to give all of me because of Christ’s gift of Himself to me. The community and selflessness of the people of Ruma was nothing short of beautiful, and I will be forever grateful that I was able to see Christ’s unconditional and abundant love through these family members from across the world.